Saturday, October 11, 2008
ASHES OF TIME REDUX Plus - Part 1 of 2
Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Time (1994) is a favorite movie of mine. The available DVDs are not good nor does a decent print of the movie remain. So when Ashes of Time Redux a restored/tweaked version of the film was shown at the New York Film Festival it was a must attend event for me. Earlier that day at the Apple Store on Prince Street there was an Indiewire interview with director Wong Kar-Wai and cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
At the Apple Store. Wong Kar-Wai in his signature silver frame glasses with black lacquer like lenses, Armond White moderator from the New York Press and Chris Doyle wearing scuffed snakeskin (?) boots.
A chair was added just before the interview began as Chris Doyle showed up too. He seemed a little tipsy and restless. During the interview Doyle took digital pictures (held the camera at an angle) of the film clips being shown and Wong and White.
Both Wong and Doyle talked about William Chang's importance in the making of the film. Chang is listed as production designer and he also did editing. Apparently he's a ruthless editor and not above cutting scenes with elaborate sets and expensive costumes he's designed. Wong, Doyle and Chang have worked together on many of Wong's films. I got the feeling that Chang was the third man in their group but happened not to be in New York with them.
Because of the abstractness of music Wong finds it most difficult to communicate with composers so he likes to work with written music. When he hears music (on the street, in a shopping mall)he likes he finds who wrote it and uses it and/or the musician's work in his movie. His use of Yo Yo Ma in Ashes of Time Redux came from his overhearing a CD of Ma's being played.
When questioned about his use of a Spanish recording of Nat King Cole in In the Mood for Love Wong aswered that he immigrated to Hong Kong from Shanghai and he, like William Chang, was an outsider. As a teenager Wong and his friends listened to American music that often was sung in Spanish by Filipano singers.
WKW. "All music aspires to jazz."
Chris Doyle responded. "We work like a jazz ensemble."
The English titles of his films Wong picks from song titles he likes as the literal translations from the Chinese don't fit the movies. He'll use a song title even if it isn't in the movie like As Tears Go By.
In 1992 when Ashes of Time was shot there wasn't money to hire a symphony orchestra so the music was done with electronics. Reworked and new music is an important part/change in Redux. This is discussed in two interviews I've linked at the end.
Both men laughed when asked to comment on how they captured the atmostphere of Hong Kong so well in Chungking Express. Doyle answered that this is what happens when you don't have filming permits and you're running down a crowded street chased by policemen. Then your/this film style is used in high end fashion magazines with no credit to you, "F**k you very much." A favorite saying of Doyle's that day.
On film versus digital Doyle spoke about the integrity of capturing the moment with film rather than digital enhancement. Jackie Chan falling down the side of a building was an example Doyle used.
Outside the Apple store:
Is that Chris Doyle ahead of me???
Fan that I am I follow around the corner and there he is!
The Ashes of Time Redux movie website is excellent. The press kit download is full of all kinds of information worth reading.
WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show has an informative and excellent 26 minute interview with Wong and Doyle (sober too I think). It's the most comprehensive of what I've read or heard.
New York Magazine's Brett Simon has a fun interview where WKW talks about the movie wrap party where Chris Doyle is drunk, naked and a there's a fire. Very entertaining.
Upcoming blog entry-ASHES OF TIME REDUX Plus Part 2 of 2. Before during and after the actual film screening.